Category Archives: Enrichment

The Benefits of Winter For Our Birds

 

PVC aviary made for under $100.
PVC aviary made for under $100.

I am a full-time bird keeper and caregiver, meaning I care for birds at least eight hours a day seven days a week. This is part of my profession. All day every day I think about enrichment, new environments, and new experiences I can offer to my birds. This is why I love winter. Let me explain.

For those of us in the states, cooler temps are right around the corner. Shorter days in the winter mean longer hours of darkness. It also means the less time we can get our birds out in the aviaries. When the sun sets my birds sleep naturally. This means I have more time in the evenings to be creative with their enrichment in the planning of new enclosures or new aviaries.
I love making PlayStation’s from PVC pipes that hang from the

Suspended PVC playstation. All hung from the ceiling.
Suspended PVC playstation. All hung from the ceiling.

ceiling. Hanging them from the ceiling makes for easier cleanup below. I like to make PVC play stations that have parts that can be moved. I make them so perches can be moved and food and water bowls can be moved. This incorporates change on a daily basis to the birds environment encouraging them to be curious if they wish.

Movable perches and water dishes.
Movable perches and water dishes.

Winter is the time I get creative and take a look at what needs to be changed for the upcoming year. What can I change in their aviaries? Large flight spaces can get very boring and very stagnant very quick. This is the time where I rearrange heavy perches that are buried in the ground. And large purchases and swings that hang from the top of the aviary. Moving these things around causes the animals to think before they run or fly. Moving these perches and swings around also helps keep them used to changes in their environment. Changes, based on the adaptability of the individual bird, are good for them. Changes happen naturally in life and the more we can provide those changes at the Birds comfort level, the healthier and the more well-adjusted bird we will have in our care.

Always dreamed of having an aviary or building onto an existing

Suspended playstation hung in the training room. See the perch that gives the bird the choice to come down to our level for the opportunity to interact?
Suspended playstation hung in the training room. See the perch that gives the bird the choice to come down to our level for the opportunity to interact?

aviary? Winter is the time to begin designing  and start making those plans. This is a great time to order products needed to prepare for the spring. When spring arrives you can already have the equipment on hand and available. As soon as the ground thaws, start building those aviaries.

Want more ideas for how you can plan better areas and better enrichment for your birds this winter? Stay tuned for upcoming blog post. Better yet, give us your feedback and ideas here. Let us know what you want to hear.

Natural Summer-time Enrichment!

I want to share one of my favorite and easiest summer-time enrichment tips. It’s August. It’s hot (well not this year but it should be). These are the dog-days of summer and sometimes it is difficult to find things to do with our birds because it is too hot to take them in to aviaries. Whether you have an aviary or not, this can be applicable to you.

What we do here is watch the forecast. 100 degrees tomorrow? Take the birds out in the aviary before ten in the morning. Shower them with a mister (assuming they enjoy the showers). Several birds love to take showers and several need to be trained to enjoy it. I know I had to train both of my cockatoos to enjoy taking a shower.

When the mister comes on, I ask them if they want to take a shower. I can clearly tell by the body language if they want to or not. I always give them the opportunity to walk or fly away if they don’t. I will encourage them with my interaction, but if they don’t want to, I don’t push it. I need the act of showering to remain a desired behavior here. Sometimes they bathe once a week, sometimes its once a month. As long as they are clean and healthy, I keep their choice involved in it.

All of the birds here get excited about taking a shower at certain times. I take them into the aviary and point the mister up in the air. Usually a raised crest or a few flaps of the wings lets me know it is time for me to move in with the mist over their heads.

The wings start flapping. They hang upside down on their perches. Some fly through the mist. Rico, our Umbrella enjoys flying to the ground, flapping his wings and hopping through the mist. With all of this activity, this is great exercise and both mental and physical stimulation for the birds. Even better yet, we are involved with them, keeping our relationships strong.

About fifteen minutes of showering, flapping wings, screaming from excitement, and hopping around, wears a bird out pretty quick. What comes to follow is drying, preening, and a nap. The whole scenario should take up at least a few hours and a few hours of of quiet can be priceless.

I hope everyone’s summer is going well. I have several topics in mind for upcoming blog posts. If you have suggestions, let us know.